Summer Front didn't get the kind of pace that a closer typically needs in the 60th running of the $200,000 Fort Lauderdale (G2) on Saturday at Gulfstream Park. He almost didn't get the room, either.
After saving ground along the rail to the top of the stretch, Summer Front found enough of a seam turning for home to unleash his powerful late kick and catch stubborn pacesetter Tetradrachm to win the Fort Lauderdale by three-quarters of a length.
Ridden by Joe Bravo, Waterford Stable's Summer Front ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.24 on a firm turf course, paying $4.40 as the 6-5 favorite in a field of six. Tetradrachm was a clear second, 2 3/4 lengths in front of Nikki's Sandcastle. They were followed under the wire by Slumber, Utley, Hierro, Howe Great and defending race champion Mucho Mas Macho.
“If you look at his races, he gets in trouble,” winning trainer Christophe Clement said. “You have to ride him that way, covered up, wait and make one run. Of course, you need a bit of racing luck. He's got a great turn of foot, as you can see. [Tetradrachm] ran a great race, and he really opened up at the quarter pole. I knew it would take a really good horse to get him, and he's a really good horse.”
Breaking from the rail, Tetradrachm and jockey Luis Saez were able to get out front and lope along through a quarter-mile in 25.19 seconds, a half-mile in 49 and six furlongs in 1:12.32. Bravo and Summer Front settled into an inside spot from post six, running fourth.
Tetradrachm took the lead into the stretch, as Bravo patiently waited for an opening. It came past the quarter pole when, Howe Great, who had prompted the pace, drifted out enough to leave a spot for Summer Front. Given his cue, the 5-year-old son of War Front shot through and impressively reeled in the leader.
“Turning for home, we were looking for place to turn him loose. When we found a seam, he just exploded,” Bravo said. “There wasn't a lot of pace in the race, but the thing about Summer Front is that he needs to turn off behind horses. When he sees daylight, he is just a monster when he turns for home. Look what he did today, that was a really special move to overcome such a slow pace. It isn't really about the horses he was in against. It was the pace. Any horse that goes that slow is going to be hard to catch.”
The Fort Lauderdale was the first start for Summer Front since closing his 4-year-old campaign shipping to California and running second by a nose to Silentio in the Citation Handicap (G2) at Hollywood Park on Nov. 29.
“He just got beat; that happens. But, he ran a very good race,” Clement said. “[Trainer] Wayne Lukas told me a long time ago, if you want to win big you have to learn to lose, as well.”
Winner of the Dania Beach Stakes at Gulfstream as a 2-year-old in 2011, Summer Front has now won eight of 16 lifetime starts and pushed his career earnings to $704,140. Clement said he will consider running back in the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1) on Feb. 8, contested at 1 1/8 miles, or the Kilroe Mile (G1) at Santa Anita on March 8.
“I like the Gulfstream race because he trains very well at Payson and it's easy for me to come here,” Clement said. “I also like the Kilroe Mile because at a mile you usually get a really strong pace, and when you've got a good turn of foot it's nice. He's got such a spectacular turn of foot.”
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